LAKEWOOD TOWNSHIP TO HIRE SEPARATE SHUTTLE BUS LIASION

For the past few years, Lakewood Township has been operating buses to shuttle members of the Hassidic Belz and Satmar communities from their neighborhoods in South Lakewood to CHEMED and other businesses in Downtown Lakewood.

The buses are operated in-house by Lakewood's Department of Public Works, and their office staff is supposed to be able to provide phone support to community members who need information on the bus routes.

Lipa Klein, an Askan (community activist) in the Hassidic Belz community in South Lakewood, is well known for lobbying for these busses. Since the buses have begun running, Lipa has become the "go-to guy" to call with any questions or comments regarding the buses, and Lipa has unofficially served as liasion to the Township regarding the buses.

Lipa is now requesting a modest salary for his services, in a new position of Shuttle Bus Liasion, separate from the Department of Public Works.

Lipa has requested the Lakewood Development Corporation (LDC) to use $75,000 of UEZ funds (a sales tax supported grant which they administer) to make him an official Shuttle Bus Liasion. Of this money, $55,000 would be used for his salary and taxes, $15,000 would be used for spending on public relations marketing for the buses and $5,000 would be available for him to spend on a phone and computer.

Lipa provided to the LDC members his phone call log from the past year. He claims that he received over 1,200 phone calls from community members regarding the buses.

At the LDC meeting in March, Board Member Rabbi Moshe Zev Weissberg presented the proposal to the LDC. Board Member Albert Isaac Akerman, who also serves on the Township Committee, questioned why there is a need for a separate Shuttle Bus Liasion when the Township should already be covering the needs for this service through Public Works. Board Member Rabbi Moshe Zev Weissberg responded that he doesn't know the answer, but that since this proposal came to his desk he wants to go forward with it.

Legally, spending this amount of money requires the Township to offer the position in an open bid. The LDC last month agreed to tentatively spend this money, and they published a bid for a Shuttle Bus Liasion. The bids were just opened this Friday.

The LDC is expected to formally award this salary position at their next meeting in June.
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